I played Dwell v1 back shortly after it came out, and I'd actually forgotten a lot of details from the original maps when replaying it here on the v2 release (I couldn't really tell which bits were new, other than the added features).
So, my feelings about the Dwell Episode 1 maps remain largely as they did back then: in general, I really quite like them. They're noticeably harder than stock Quake (I play on Easy, and I would say "Easy" here is a notch above Normal in the basic campaign), but not so hard that they're unplayable at my skill level. There's, to my mind, a deliberate bunch of referencing of Serious Sam [especially now in v2's tweaks with the Kamikazes added], and I'm kind of positively disposed to that game too, so, all to the well.
Except: I didn't get on with D1M7 at all in the original release, and I still don't get on with it now. I strongly dislike it as a map: it's overly obtuse, confusing and punitive. I still have no idea what you're *supposed* to do with the weird space you're teleported into when falling off the map, and I *still* (only half-remembering the map from the first time) found the *secret* before I ever worked out what the intended path was through the level, because it seemed like a more reasonable way to go. (I still don't really know what you're supposed to do otherwise.) I changelevel'd past it after giving it 30 minutes of time.
By contrast, Mazu's D1M8 is significantly improved by the removal of the original boss fight for the new one in its own level in D1M9. (Although I probably also think this because it's possible to cheese the adds in the new end of the level so they don't all swarm you at once: if I had gotten the horde I think it intended, I would be less happy.)
And, the new boss fight is great, and has a nice "substage" mechanic which I enjoyed, along with new design. D1M9 is a high point for the entire project.
Onto the second episode, I'm a little less excited. It felt to me like the difficulty on Easy - not so much of the monster encounters, which were generally not too bad (except for a horde combat in D2M4 which I eventually had to godmode past after dying within seconds the two dozen or so times I tried to beat it normally), but the difficulty of traversal and design was much higher. There's at least 3 jumps in the episode which apparently are intended to be "just normal jumps" which I found *very* tricky [two of which I had to noclip past to progress - in one case after having spent some time searching the level for alternative routes on the assumption that the jump was supposed to be impossible without movement tricks]; and whilst I appreciate the intent of the water sections, I had to godmode through at least two of them because I kept getting turned around, lost and then drowning to death (yes, even with the powerups).
So, I'd rate Dwell episode 2 as "Hard" when played on "Easy" mode.
Ironically, I think my favourite map of D2 is D2M7 - also by the designer of D1M7! It's overlong - the issue with the design is that I spent the *final* third of the map wandering around the entire thing trying to work out which button I hadn't pressed in various places - but the first two-thirds was genuinely really well paced and engaging.
D1M8... as well as having one of those "jumps that apparently are supposed to be possible that I noclipped past", also I just felt kinda exhausted by. It's super long, and whilst that's good in theory, I was pretty burned out in places (and a "certain sequence" of puzzles which counts your failures... well, lets say I think I ran out of things for it to say). I started out wanting to try to find secrets on it, but in the end left with just 1, and feeling like I wasn't going to ever be able to find any others.
I'm less sold on the final boss of episode 2 - it's not as interesting as episode 1's boss, and relies also on confined space and timing which I didn't really feel much. It's not a *bad* boss, but I'd rather have had episode 1's again!
Of the bonus levels that I played: I really really loved Mazu's 37 map (especially the timing of it, and the ending). I felt generally positively towards the other bonus map (not Mazu's?), but it did skew a bit hard and Constructy.
As far as new additions go:
I really liked the Haste powerup, it was never not fun.
I generally strongly disliked the Berserk powerup, to the point that I specifically avoided collecting it after the first time. (This delayed progression for me in several maps, where it's apparently part of a trigger for progression. Since I left collecting it until I absolutely couldn't avoid touching it...) The only place I actually *liked* this was in Mazu's bonus map.
I liked the new weapons just fine: I guess you can't complain about railguns being added to Quake. Since I don't switch weapons rapidly, I did find myself just wasting ammo with the rotary shotgun a lot though, and also needed a lot of time to set up with the crystal staff for sniping.
I am profoundly mixed on the new enemies: the Kamis are the same as in Serious Sam, but mostly I only tolerated them here because they tend to get stuck on terrain when routing so they're less annoying than intended by the designers. The Constructs are... annoying, and their death charge thing tends to kill me a lot more because, well, I'm the kind of person who plays on Easy for a reason. And the Brutes... well, I don't really see that we need an even spongier, more spammy Ogre - I mostly enjoyed these guys when they were in places I could snipe them before they even saw me, as otherwise I just died a lot.
Overall, though: I loved the music throught [and bought both albums from Bandcamp]. The levels were mostly beautiful, even when I found them too hard, and for the *most part* I did really enjoy them.
I do have a worry that with the escalating difficulty of the maps in general, that I'll be just noclipping through *all* of episodes 3 and 4 even on Easy, though.
So, 5 stars, minus 1/2 for D1M7 by itself, and another minus 1/2 for the collected minor imperfections. Still a good score!